Thursday, May 25, 2017 | 2 a.m.
Our elected state representatives have the opportunity to make Nevada the nation’s solar energy leader, creating jobs and generating other benefits for Nevada and the nation. They are about to vote on the bills needed to realize this goal.
The stakes are high. In a hearing in March, Dr. Jackie Kimble of the American Jobs Project testified that with the right policies in place, more than 28,000 additional jobs could be supported in Nevada’s solar and battery industries.
At another hearing, retired Vice Admiral Lee Gunn addressed the national security benefits of clean energy. We’re fortunate that state Sen. Pat Spearman, a retired Army officer, has brought this issue to the forefront of many of legislative meetings.
Three solar energy-related bills enhance national security as well as our economy:
• AB405 restores Nevada’s roof top solar industry,
• AB206 increases the amount of renewable energy supplied by utilities
• SB392 facilitates the development of Community Solar Gardens.
AB405 and SB 392 both add more distributed generation to our electrical grid. Distributed generation puts the production of power at or near where it’s used. A number of national security experts including former director of Central Intelligence R. James Woolsey and former National Security Adviser Robert “Bud” McFarlane, have advocated for distributed generation to provide at least 20 percentof our energy needs. These bills are important steps toward this need goal.
AB206 reduces the risks to Nevada of over relying on natural gas-fired electric generation, which represents some two-thirds of Nevada’s electric generation. Global issues drive the immense price risk.
Liquified natural gas produced in the United States will increasingly be exported to markets in Asia and Europe where the price for natural gas is higher than it is in the U.S. This is good for America’s balance of trade deficit and in countering the influence that the Russians are gaining from sales of natural gas to these markets.
However, exporting liquified natural gas produced in the U.S. is expected to also drive up the price of natural gas and therefore the price of natural gas-fired electricity.
It makes much more sense to use Nevada’s own energy resources — geothermal, wind and solar — to displace natural gas in electric generation, as accomplished by AB206.
In a few days our legislators will determine the fate of these bills. I urge you to reach out to your representatives in the state Assembly and Senate and exhort them to vote for these bills and help power Nevada’s economic development and our national security.
Kevin McGehee, a native Nevadan and Reno businessman, has been a citizen activist in energy issues at the Legislature and Public Utility Commission of Nevada for the past two years.